Despite the festive atmosphere, it is easy to feel down or blue during the holiday season. Part of it has to do with the fact that it’s colder, and there is less sunlight. Perhaps another contributing factor is the vapidness of simply receiving an abundance of gifts– it makes one question the meaning of life and complexity of modern living.
The first important thing to remember if feeling down is that you’re not alone. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), 20 to 26% of women and 8 to 12% of men, experience depression sometime in their lifetime. Knowing that your symptoms are common is an immediate help.
The following are 10 ways I recommend to avoid the “holiday blues” without taking pills:
You may hear about it ad nauseam, but daily exercise is essential in warding off the holiday blues. Exercising regularly releases endorphins, chemicals which improve one’s mood and increase self-esteem. It has both short-term and long-term positive effects.
Getting Some Sun
Accompanying exercise is the fact that during the winter, you should still find time to be out in the sun. Most experts recommend getting 20 minutes a day of sunlight during the winter; this is pretty standard.
Ironically enough, the acronym coined for being aversely affected by the lack of sunlight is “SAD”– it stands for seasonal affective disorder.
Don’t Deny Your Feelings
An easy thing for anyone feeling down is to tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel down. It’s a normative kind of thing– if others don’t feel this way, why do I? You have to remember that with any kind of feeling, it is completely subjective. You don’t need to feel any specific way; there is no right or wrong way to feel. In other words, don’t fight your true feelings.
One of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself is to help others. There are many options for volunteering– for example, you can work at a food bank, a shelter, an after-school program. There are so many different options that there is no excuse to not at least try helping others!
Creativity not only sparks the brain, but it nourishes it. Get your creative juices going as it’ll make you feel accomplished and better overall.
Creativity can also play an important role if you’re trying to create new traditions for the holidays. Your old traditions might make you feel sad, or maybe you quite simply just need a change. Maybe you can start doing something at your house, or join a community where there are social events– like a church. Whatever the case, if you search and explore enough, you’ll find or create something!
Fill Your Calendar
Quite simply, it is a lot harder to brood and ruminate if you’re always busy. Find engaging activities to do during the holidays, and you can ward off the blues. If depression is a constant, apply this advice yearlong.
With this being said, don’t wear yourself out. There is a balance
between having too much to do and too little– find this balance.
Death and Loneliness
Holidays allow you to reflect upon circumstances– one of those circumstances being death. Everyone dies, and it is all too easy to worry about when you will die, along with focusing upon the deaths of family members. Avoid doing such to the best of your abilities.
Related to death is a sense is loneliness. This is particularly amplified by not having a significant other, or living far away from close family and friends. Joining groups, as aforementioned, is one to alleviate such feelings.
Bad habits can lead to worse habits, and this can often lead to one feeling blue about their situation. Don’t overeat– if you are going to a party or get-together, a good piece of advice is to snack on a relatively healthy snack before entering, so you won’t eat too much there.
Even more importantly, do not drink too much alcohol. This may sound like advice for anyone in general, but it is even more pertinent to those down as alcohol is a depressant, and it will only exacerbate your depression. If you’re depressed, avoid it at all costs.
Many exercises that require silence are good for treating depression. This includes yoga; spiritual practices, such as meditation; and massage.
Don’t Get Too Sentimental
Nostalgia can be a horrible thing to fall back on; we remember how we felt as kids, and expect to still be able to feel the same way today. Don’t fall into this trap! Everything changes and nothing stays the same. Don’t expect things to ever feel the same. Enjoy the present.
So here it is: ten ways to feel better during the holidays without taking pills. Pills– and even supplements– are always an option, but now you know that time-tested, natural remedies still exist.